Word and Work (Luke 10:38-42)

Martha speaks:

“I knew the minute I saw Jesus that what he’d been trying to say was true. He would not be with us much longer. This might be the last time he visited my home, ate at my table. This might be the last time that I could give him what he needed and appreciated:  a hot meal, a cool water, warm company. The knowledge of it plunged a knife into my heart. As he crossed the threshold, I felt my knees go weak, felt the keening of the funeral procession already beginning in the back of my throat. Better to keep busy than to have him see me like this. My hands in the dough, cutting the dates into pieces just so, cooking the fish just as he liked it. I flew around the house. I knew that doing something–anything–was the only way to keep myself from the truth of the loss that lay ahead.”

Mary speaks:

“I knew the minute I saw Jesus that what he’d been trying to say was true. He would not be with us much longer. I had never seen the depth of sorrow I saw in his eyes that day, although he was as kindly gracious as ever. As he settled in the house, the others gathered around as always, asking questions or reaching out for healing or just offering a raucous welcome. I was immediately curious about this new sorrow that I saw in him, that I felt reflected in my own heart. Where did it come from? Where would it lead him? I felt I just had to know more. Maybe if I understood, I could meet him in that place. Maybe if I knew more, I could help him somehow. So I knelt at his feet as close as I could. I absorbed every word he spoke, drank in every movement. Soon, the flurry and bustle of the room faded, as I focused on his face, his voice.”

We imagine what Jesus’ friends, the sisters Mary and Martha, might have felt when they saw him soon after he predicted his own death to his disciples. Mary and Martha each sense Jesus’ grief, and each feels their own. Martha distracts herself from her feelings and is able to channel her emotions into hospitality; Mary stays present and curious to her emotions, but is unconcerned with her own physical needs, as well as those of her guests.

These are two ways to respond to strong emotions. There are many others. Take a few minutes to share with a friend or spiritual guide or in a journal how you respond when grief enters your home and sits down at your table. Now consider your response. Is that how you’d like to respond? Or is there another way that feels more authentic for you? Ask Jesus to help you meet your emotions the way you would most like to.



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Caring Neighbors (Luke 10:25-37)

The Good Samaritan story reminds us that Christ calls us to draw a wider circle as we bring compassion, healing, and hope to others. The 3 Great Loves initiative is giving congregations across the denomination a forum for sharing stories about the way that they are practicing being Good Samaritans.

An example of a Good Samaritan is the Spring Creek UCC congregation in Rockford, Illinois.  Since December 2015, the congregation has provided household goods and supplies to ten families moving from homelessness into an apartment through their Adopt An Apartment Initiative (AAA).  “The generosity of the congregation in donating items has been outstanding and we are very grateful to our dedicated group of volunteers who have helped to transport the items and clean and stage the apartments,” the congregation reports.

Hadwen Park Congregational UCC, Worcester, Massachusetts, reaches out to the LGBT people escaping from countries where it is illegal and dangerous to be themselves. These asylum seekers are unable to work or receive public assistance while awaiting asylum, so the congregation gives them a shared apartment, food, cell phone, a small stipend, help finding medical care and legal representation. The asylum seekers are also into the church community for spiritual care and a sense of community and friendship. The congregation has supported as many as two dozen asylum seekers at a time.

Zion United Church of Christ, in Hubbard, Iowa, has extended their definition of neighbor to include those living 2000 miles away. The rural congregation is demonstrating love of neighbor by collecting over 1,100 needed items for two UCLA Mobile Health Clinics for the homeless living in Los Angeles.  Zion UCC has provided travel sized bottles of shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, as well as underwear, flashlights, shoes, and many other necessary and much needed items to their neighbors.

These congregations, and many others, are redrawing the lines of what it means to be a neighbor, drawing the circle ever wider.  How is your congregation a Good Samaritan?  Tell your story!

3 Great Loves is the United Church of Christ’s denomination-wide storytelling initiative. Telling the story of how we are living out God’s love and expressing love of neighbor, children and creation, 3 Great Loves demonstrates how our denomination lives out the love of God and creates a just world for all.


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Bluffton Food Pantry Needs for June and July

The Bluffton food pantry needs to replenish their shelves. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. Donations are always down in the summer.  Please try to avoid glass containers. 

Items needs are

Cereal and oatmeal, creamy peanut butter, chunky soups, canned fruit (particularly mandarin oragnes); spaghetti sauce, tuna, baked beans, shampoo, body lotions and creams, women’s deodorant, paper towels, kleenex, toilet paper.

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Summer Hours Begin June 2

Our summer worship schedule will begin on Sunday, June 2, at 10 a.m.  Adult Christian Education classes will meet at 9 a.m.

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Calling All Musicians

During the summer months the St. John’s choir members are on hiatus.  If you, or someone you know, is musically talented and would like to offer special music for a worship service during the months of June through August, please inform Pastor Carol or Nancy Yeager.

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Church Camp Registration Forms Available

Registration forms are available for Templed Hills, our UCC church camp, from Pastor Carol. If you have never attended grandparents camp with your grandchild(ren), Pastor Carol highly recommends it. Please see her to learn of her wonderful memories and experiences at camp with her grandchildren.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Centering Words for July 21:  This is a place to pause from the hustle and bustle of our days. This is a time to listen to the spoken word, enjoy the notes of a song, find joy in the face of our neighbor, and dwell in the Spirit of God.

Sunday, July 21–Worship, 10 a.m.; Ron Geiser is our guest speaker. He is studying to be a lay leader within the UCC.  His meditation is “Ethically Challenged”, and is based on Romans 13:1-10.  A coffee hour follows in Oppermann Hall.

Sunday, July 21 through Thursday, July 25–Vacation Bible School at St. John’s UCC from 6 to 8 p.m.  Theme:  “Super Heroes”.  Pre-school through grade 5 students are welcome.  Registration takes place on Sunday, July 21, for those not previously registered.

Tuesday, July 23-Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; Our Daily Bread, 10:30 am.; VBS 6 to 8 p.m.

Wednesday, July 24–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.; VBS 6 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, July 25–Final evening for VBS, 6 to 8 p.m.










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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  July 23, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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St Johns Snow

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